A RAIL campaigner is urging those with concessionary bus passes to use a new experimental train service.
Campaigner Derrick Baker, 72, from Weymouth said he is delighted that the government has taken on the new scheme that will see older and disabled people, who hold a concessionary bus pass, being able to get 34 per cent off rail travel.
The trial means concessionary bus pass holders will be able to claim discounted fares on two test routes without purchasing an annual senior railcard, which costs £28.
First Great Western trains will run the trial period between now and November 2013 for people using their passes on off-peak standard fares on the Weymouth to Westbury line, which includes Upwey , Dorchester West and Maiden Newton stations.
Mr Baker said he had been campaigning for the changes for the last three years working with the National Pensioners Convention and trade unions.
He said: “It brings older and disabled people even more into society, where they can get on the train and visit relatives or go to another town centre where they can go shopping and bring money into the economy that way.”
Mr Baker added that it was a ‘major step forward’.
Mr Baker said he urged people to use the scheme so that the Association of Train Operators, who will be reviewing the trial results, would be convinced to take it on full time.
Concessionary bus pass holders will also be able to use their passes on the First Great Western Worcester to Swindon route via Stroud.
A spokesman for First Great Western trains said that the lines were chosen as they had a large number of leisure passengers on rather than a large number of commuter passengers, so the results of the trial would not be ‘swayed by additional or too much commuter traffic’.
First Great Western Managing Director Mark Hopwood said: “We are delighted to be able to take part in this trial, which should help improve access for senior citizens and people with disabilities.” Rail Minister Norman Baker said that the railways provided a ‘crucial part of our country’s economic growth’.
He said: “This is great news for bus pass holders and hopefully they will take full advantage of the discounts.”
For more information visit the First Great Western website at firstgreatwestern.co.uk